Growing calls to search Mohawk Institute in Brantford for missing Indigenous children

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Six Nations of the Grand River is calling on the federal government for urgent action to search for missing Indigenous children.

The First Nation wants equipment to search the former Mohawk Institute residential school in Brantford following the discovery of 215 child remains in a mass grave in Kamloops, B.C.

"If this happened in one school, you're darn right it happened in other schools," said Sandra Heim, of Nipissing First Nation and a survivor of the sixties scoop.

For survivors of the Mohawk Institute, the site brings back painful memories of their time there as children.

John Elliott attended the former Mohawk Institute from 1947 to 1952.

He says the residential school was a tough place to grow up, adding punishments included beatings or spending days in a basement cubby.

"I was threw in there the first time for running away for one day and everything, you never got nothing to eat or drink, all there was was a two by twelve on the floor and a five gallon pail for your toilet," Elliott said.The institute was established in 1831 and become one of the first residential schools in Canada. Like all residential schools, the institute tried to assimilate its Indigenous students into Euro-Canadian culture.

Martha Albert, a fellow Mohawk Institute survivor, was taken from her parents as a child.

She recalls trying to run away from the institute with four other girls, but they were caught when they stopped for food.

"When we came back we knew what the punishment was. We were punished for what we done," Albert said. "I'm just going to say it was not good."

The former Mohawk Institute site is now operated by the Woodland Cultural Centre. Executive director Janis Monture says its board will decide if it will make a similar call for a search of the grounds, as the Six Nations of the Grand River did.

"We want to see the truth at the end of the day. Survivors have been telling us these stories and testimonials for years," she said.